M. Soccer: Playoff win advances Falcons to next round

Setup for direct kick resulted in lone goal of the game
Setup for direct kick resulted in lone goal of the game

In a rematch of the 2018 CCCAA State Championship game, the Cerritos College men's soccer team posted a 1-0 win over Golden West College on Wednesday. The #2-seeded Falcons (17-2-4), who won the state championship, and were named the national champions last season, will now host #6-seeded Oxnard College at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. The win over the #7-seeded Rustlers (9-4-9) extended their unbeaten streak against their post-season rival to six games (4-0-2), while the Falcons are now 12-5-3 since 2006 against Golden West with five of those games coming in the post-season.

Next up will be the Condors, who Cerritos defeated, 2-1 earlier in the season. In their last 15 games, dating back to 2006, the Falcons are 9-0-6 against Oxnard, which includes a 1-0 double-overtime win in the second round of the playoffs last year. Cerritos is now 11-0-2 in their last 13 home playoff games, which dates back to 2012, while they are currently 33-0-5 at home in their last 38 overall games, dating back to 2016.

The playing surface was over saturated due to the rain prior to the game, and got progressively worse once the game started. A heavy rain shower early in the game made traction on the field worse than it already was, but Cerritos came out with an aggressive approach and it netted an early result.

"Im so proud of our guys," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "They truly demonstrated a championship demeanor today. To play in these conditions says a lot about our guys. I'm without words on how hard they played. We now prepare for Oxnard and hope the weather tones down a bit, so we don't have to play in the mud again."

The lone goal of the game came in the 12th minute, thanks to a heads-up play from sophomore Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS). Lining up for a direct kick from about 25 yards out, his shot was punched out by Rustlers goalkeeper Adrian Covarrubias on a nice play. Only thing is, the ball was punched forward, where Diaz was heading, as he attacked the net. He followed the play and fired off a shot that deflected off a Golden West defender and into the net for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

In the first half, the Falcons put constant pressure on the Rustlers defense and saw several attempts one pass away from being converted into goals. In the 21st minute, freshman Nicholas Correa (Downey HS) saw his rebound shot deflect off the post.

Golden West was able to stretch the Cerritos defense in the second half, but were met with resistance. The Rustlers Eric Barriga had the best chance to score, but saw his hard shot hit off the post in the 82nd minute. Rotating their defenders throughout the game, the Falcons posted their eighth shutout of the season, with freshman goalkeeper Luis Enciso (Gahr HS) recording five saves.

The overly physical game produced 32 fouls, as well as seven yellow cards, with six of them absorbed by the Falcons.